The Challenge – preparing Primary School aged children for Secondary School:
The national schools curriculum at Key Stage 2 for Computer Science and Design Technology continually evolves. The resource in this area for teachers is vast, ever changing and complex. Lesson preparation, particularly for computer studies can be challenging. One thing teachers don’t have is time. Time to teach, time to prepare lessons.. time for admin, meetings…. you get the picture. Teachers need a system that is easy to use, the kids love, and it covers a huge range of topics and core curriculum items.
One of the most challenging areas of the curriculum is Computer Science. As a teacher they may not have been taught about coding, variables, arrays and how these tools interact in the real World. They then need to teach that to children in Years 5 and 6. Thank-you Scratch! If you want to know about visual coding, then take a look at Scratch. Simply dragging blocks to apply logic and code to your hearts content. Kids love it. However, Scratch by itself doesn’t really link to an interactive real World. Where’s the door? Great… I’ve created a variable and used it to do something on-screen, but I’m off home now. I understood how that worked at the time, but it’s going to fade into a distant memory, as I drop down on the sofa at home with my iPad and start pressing buttons again (just buttons).
Imagine this …
World meet Interactive Robotics. Picture a scenario where a child has this lesson:
- they spend a session building a robot (Design Technology) – nuts, bolts, plates, wheels, tracks, sensors, electronics, an electronic brain (microprocessor)
- they hook up their robot to the school computer (Communication) using either a wire or bluetooth – it bleeps!
- they use a Scratch based visual programming platform to come up with something simple for their robot – maybe driving it around the classroom
- they learn a new topic ‘all about sound’ and learn about waves and ultrasound – oh look! Their robot has an ultrasonic sensor (like eyes)
- they discover their ultrasonic sensor produces different values (calibrated for distance) and they can see that on the screen
- they do some experiments around ultrasound using those values – presenting data, analysing
- they then visually program their robot using the Scratch based platform they love – they create variables, arrays and blocks of code to control their robot
- After switching their robot on, they discover all their hard work actually causes their robot to interact in the Real World. It’s amazing!
- How many real life examples use ultrasonic distance detection?… Erm… LOADS! Grain silo depth detection, Amazon warehouse transporting robots, Aircraft boarding ladders and gangeways, Car park barrier systems…
We think this system should be in every Primary School in the UK
That lesson was a basic example. The system we use in our coms4kids Robotics club has sensors all over it (infra-red, sound, temperature, ultrasonic, gyroscopic). It also has a buzzer to programme music, 16 LEDs to program any colour and an array of extra ports for other sensors, e.g. smoke detection, touch sensor, gas sensor, compass, angles… etc. On the other side are a row of motor ports. It’s getting a bit hot in the classroom.. why not program your robot to detect the temperature, then if it gets too hot, simply turn on a fan.
Be a first adopter – get ahead of the rest
If you are interested (and many schools are) in receiving more information about this system, then get in touch. We are developing a huge new teaching resource around it. The future of teaching computer science and design technology is changing.. it’s going to be more fun.